After all the excitement of the nighttime it was time to have our breakfast and say goodbye to our little island – we saw no sign of the little fellas we had released the night before, whether that was good or bad I cannot say. So we got back onto our launch and set off in the direction of Sandakan, once more the weather did not look too great so we crossed our fingers that the trip would be a good one and the rain would hold off.
We made it back to the jetty both in one piece and dryish although a couple of choppy bits had tried their best to wet us. Sandakan had not changed in our absence and rather than simply waiting around for the bus we got a drink and watched another roti seller making his wares. Making a roti is not as easy as it sounds an awful lot of hard work is done in the kneading process but as breakfast had not been too long ago I resisted the urge to ‘roti out’.
The bus to take us to the Kinabangen River Jungle Lodge turned up and the drive there was another of those unsatisfying travels through Malaysia – I love the country and know it has some really great places but it seems intent on making itself the Palm Oil growing centre of possibly, the Universe and it is all very disappointing to look at – miles upon miles of Palm Oil trees – crappo viewing.
When we got to the ‘camp’ we were given our room and although it was quite basic it was okay enough and we were told the itinerary which was first to go out on the Evening River Cruise to see whatever animals could be seen along the banks. Before getting onto the boat I had noticed a few piles of dead green bugs but this did not really bother me as none could be seen flying about. The cruise along the river was great everything we wanted to see could be seen and if we could not see it our guide Max pointed it out – he had the eyes of an eagle and spent a good deal of time telling us about the different animals and the area which was really interesting too.
First up what looked like a huge man in a red gorilla suit with his back to us – an Orang Utan – was seen high up a tree but he looked huge for some reason I thought them to be smaller! After seeing a few Long-tailed Macaques – the rogues of the forest – we went along further where a couple of boats seemed to be watching the grasses as nothing could obviously be seen.
We waited and waited whilst other boats came and went and every now and again we got a glimpse of creatures eating the leaves on the riverbank – it was only Pygmy Elephants.
We spent such a long time watching the elephants that we turned back but then managed to see a troop of Proboscis Monkeys high on up in the trees mostly with their backs to the water to watch out for predators coming from landwards.
However not all predators live on the land and we caught a glimpse of a Crocodile’s snout as it headed across the river. Every now and then, in between the bigger sightings, Max would spot one of the many different types of Hornbill and even a Kingfisher – so if there had been an Observer’s Book of Kintabangen River animals we must have come close to seeing the lot.
Back to the lodge for tea which was very nice and then on with our boots – and if you had them leech socks – for the night walk. This was to be a pitch black walk amongst the trees and this was where the guide really came into his own as the rest of us in the group could not see a thing. Only a few steps out from the camp and a guide for one of the other groups saw a Tarsier.
This was okay at first and until we had quite a few of us round the same animal – it seemed to be okay with it until someone went a bit far with the photography shooting and used his flash then the animal leapt from his tree. On the tree previously it moved like a Sloth but now it had been spooked it shot away like Spiderman! This was not all there was to be seen and as well as bugs and a frog on a leaf we also came across sleeping birds one of which was a type of Kingfisher. The sleeping birds were quite surreal as they looked like stuffed birds and although we were not particularly quiet the birds did not rustle a feather!
Every now and again we would have to double time, quick march whilst watching subject as we were standing in the midst of Fire Ants and they are not nice to be bitten by so we legged it!
The night walk done we went back to camp and had a beer, really happy that we had seen so much wildlife on day one and as we were leaving for our beds another guide who had been hanging around chatting with another member of staff beckoned us over and in the tree he was pointing at there was a Civet – even animals to be seen on base!